NCPO takes legal action against Pheu Thai

Pheu Thai’s Chusak Sirinil, right, talks to a police officer sent to warn the party not to hold a press conference at its headquarters in Bangkok on Thursday morning. Acting Pheu Thai leader Viroj Pao-in, second left, and Pheu Thai secretary-general Phumtham Vejjayachai look on. (Photo by Pawat Laopaisarntaksin)

The National Council for Peace and Order plans legal action against the Pheu Thai Party for holding a press conference where it criticised the NCPO’s performance in administering the country.

Col Burin Thongpraphai, NCPO legal affairs chief, said at the Crime Suppression Division in Bangkok on Thursday that the NCPO still banned old political parties from conducting political activity. A violation to the ban was considered to be a political gathering, which was a violation under NCPO order 3/2558.

The announcement followed Pheu Thai’s press conference on the NCPO’s performance at the party’s headquarters in Bangkok on Thursday morning.

Col Burin also said that Pheu Thai had violated the Computer Crime Act in publicising its press conference through its Facebook page.

Violators of NCPO order 3/2558 are liable to a jail term of up to six months and/or a fine of up to 10,000 baht. Violators of the Computer Crime Act are liable to a jail term of up to five years and a fine of up to 100,000 baht.

The NCPO’s legal team would decide whom it would target for legal action, Col Burin said.

Chusak Sirinil, legal affairs chief of Pheu Thai, said the party would defend itself because it had the constitutional right to expression. Pheu Thai had organised such activities previously without a problem, he said.

The party had cut the number of its members who could hold a press conference to three and kept its executives away, to avoid posing a challenge, Mr Chusak said. The three were Mr Chusak, Chaturon Chaisaeng and Wattana Muangsook.

The biggest party said at its media conference on Thursday morning that in the past four years the NCPO had failed in national reconciliation; in the restoration of democracy by postponing the election and bringing in a law that weakened political parties; and in the protection of people’s rights.

Pheu Thai also accused the NCPO of wanting to prolong its hold on power.

Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Prawit Wongsuwon said on Thursday that over the past four years the NCPO had restored order and brought an end to disunity in the country.

It was also trying to solve economic problems through many initiatives. These included projects offering careers and income opportunities for grass roots people, and restructuring of the agricultural sector.

Thursday evening Col Burin asked the Crime Suppression Division to press four charges against the Pheu Thai Party for:

– violating NCPO order 57/2557 banning existing political parties from conducting a meeting or a political activity

– violating NCPO order 3/2558 banning a political gathering of at least five people

– violating the computer crime law

– violating Section 116 of the Crimnial Code for committing insurrection.